The Boston Celtics are one win away from setting the NBA world on fire as they have come all the way back from a 3-0 deficit and are now one win away from the Finals and from being the first team in NBA history to overcome this deficit. We’ll preview tonight’s game seven before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-quarter bet in this one.
For a large majority of game six, it seemed as if neither team wanted to win. Miami struggled mightily with Jimmy Butler having his second straight bad performance, but every time it seemed like they were out of it, the Celtics would let them back in the game. Miami shot just 35% from the field, but when Boston was one dagger three away from closing the game out, they couldn’t get it to fall, as they ended the game shooting 20% from deep.
Ultimately, Derrick White saved the day, which brings us to tonight. The idea that Miami does not have the depth has been talked about ad nauseam, and while it may be true, I ultimately think whichever teams two stars play better will come away with the victory. As simple as it may sound, that is how it’s boiled down since game one; I mean, you get a slightly better game from Bam Adebayo and Butler on Saturday night, we are already talking about the Finals.
Neither side played exceptionally well on Saturday, but Brown and Tatum got to the free-throw line a combined 25 times and knocked down 23, which was huge since they went 0-12 from three. On the other side, Jimmy Butler was 12-14 from the free throw line, while not one other player on the team recorded more than four free throws.
There is no denying Bam Adebayo has struggled to score over the past two games, as he is coming off a 4-16 performance from the field on Saturday, but even if that's the case, he has to find his way to the line. It’s unlikely we'll see him struggle that badly again tonight, but either way, he has to give Miami an interior scoring presence since most of the Heat role players don’t have that capability.
For all of the postseason, I’ve been focused on first-half spread bets, but tonight I’ll be targeting a first-quarter bet. Boston is currently favored by (-2.5) in the first quarter, and I’ll be backing them as my play. The Celtics have a NET rating of (27.2) in the first quarter at home this series and a (12.3) NET rating at home for the entire postseason. On the other hand, the Heat have a (-8.2) NET rating in the first quarter on the road during the playoffs.
The Celtics covered the 1Q spread on the road in game six, outscoring the Heat 34-29 in the quarter, and now they return home with momentum and the crowd on their side. Boston is also pulling down 11.7 rebounds on average in the first quarter, with the Heat pulling down 10.2 this series, and in turn, that has led to Miami allowing an average of 12 points in the paint and 4.8 second chance points.
Similarly, the Celtics are holding Miami to an average of 2.5 second-chance points and 9.3 points in the paint during the first quarter. Based on this series, this game will likely be back and forth and feature a lot of runs by both sides, but I think everything is lined up for Boston to jump out to an early lead.
Boston Celtics 1Q (-2.5)